Most Americans Say COVID-19 Rules Aid Public Health: Poll

Ralph Ellis

September 17, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

A majority of people surveyed in a recent poll say that COVID-19 restrictions have helped slow the spread of the virus.

In the Pew Research Center poll released this week, 62% of respondents said the restrictions have been worth the cost, compared to 37% who say the restrictions were not.

"Americans on balance view the public health benefits of these restrictions as having been worth the costs," Pew said in a news release that came out with the poll in which 10,000 U.S. adults were surveyed Aug. 23-29.

There's a range of opinion on which restrictions are a good idea. About 80% of respondents say masks should be required on planes and public transportation and 79% say international travel should be restricted.

About half say restaurants should be limited to take-out business and 48% think schools should be closed to in-person learning.

Should proof of vaccination be required for certain activities? Sixty-one percent said it should be for air travel, but only 50% said proof should be required for eating inside a restaurant.

The poll found sharp differences of opinion between Republicans and Democrats.

In general, Democrats were widely supportive of restrictions to curb COVID-19, but Republicans usually supported "select steps – like limiting international travel and requiring masks on public transportation – while opposing others and offering little support for vaccine mandates," Pew said.

When it comes to wearing a face mask in a store or business, about 71% of Democrats say they do it most of the time, compared to just 30% of Republicans. Back in February, 93% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans said they did.

Pew found 86% of Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party are at least partially vaccinated, compared to 60% of Republican and Republican leaners. Among all respondents, 73% have gotten at least one dose and 26% are unvaccinated.

Among Democrats, 74% say President Biden is doing a good job dealing with the pandemic, but only 15% of Republicans say that. In February, 84% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans gave a positive response when asked about Biden's performance.

A Washington Post analysis of the survey noted a big gap in opinions between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Only 32% of unvaccinated people are concerned about becoming infected and requiring hospitalization while 50% of vaccinated people are concerned -- even though data shows the large majority of people becoming infected and hospitalized are unvaccinated.

Also, only 38% of unvaccinated people are worried about unknowingly spreading the virus to somebody else, compared to 66% of vaccinated people.


Pew Research Center. "Majority in U.S. Says Public Health Benefits of COVID-19 Restrictions Worth the Costs, Even as Large Shares Also See Downsides"

The Washington Post. "Some striking numbers on the unvaccinated among us"


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